Aluminum canoes

9:52 p.m. on July 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I have managed to borrow 'till Sept a 10' Aluminum Springbok canoe to enjoy with my two kids this summer, as my gf is gone cycling across Canada (she left the left coast June 3, left Winnipeg, Manitoba today...)

We took it out to a small lake (Kissinger Lake, BC) and loved it.

I want one.

Is there any reason to avoid a used Aluminum canoe?

I love that I can carry it on one shoulder,

That it carries 500 lbs, can be used solo, or with my punks,

And that it fits in the bed of my truck with a bunk across the back.

Just looking for opinions and experiences.

Thanks ;)

12:08 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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If cared for properly, aluminum boads will last for many years. However, my brother's boat was attacked by a protective cow moose while he was paddling in the Thousand Islands area of Canada. His aluminum canoe survived, but was bent badly enough that it had to be retired and destroyed. Once aluminum is bent, it will never have the same strength after it is (if it can be) straightened.

1:22 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Did the cow moose attack because it was aluminum?

6:52 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I think the point was, when it gets bent it stays bent.

Also: aluminum is one of the best conductors of heat, which can make the hull very hot in the summertime.

Don't know that these are deal-killers but they would go in the "cons" column for aluminum.

11:51 a.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't know if it's just my imagination, but I've found that alumnimum canoes are more difficult to handle in windy conditions.

1:39 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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There is nothing "wrong" with an aluminum canoe. They are quite durable and will last for generations. However, there are some caveats. As Tom says, aluminum conducts heat and cold well. Hot on a summer day, cold when the water is cold too. They are noisy. Repair is easier than some plastics. When dented they can be straightened to a point. Though as one poster explained, aluminum, once bent, loses some strength, this is not really an issue in a canoe. On rivers, aluminum will "stick" to rocks rather than slide over them easily. A final note. Shape is arguably more important than material when choosing a canoe. A 10 foot canoe may seem like a great deal if you've never paddled anything else. However, you'll quickly find that a canoe with a better shape will increase your appreciation of what a canoe can be, and what it is capable of. My advice is to try a variety of materials and shapes before you decide. Your kids will grow quickly and the ten foot boat will prove too small very shortly.

6:33 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Are other material types less prone to damage than aluminum?

7:01 p.m. on July 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for the advice,

And Erich, your point about a 10 footer being too small in the coming years is one to consider.

3:03 p.m. on July 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Noddlehead, every material has it's pros and cons. I would not say that other materials are less prone to damage than aluminum, though Royalex and poly canoes are very, very durable. Royalex is still the standard for expedition canoes, as well as ww canoes. Poly is much heavier, not as easy to repair, but cheaper. The biggest advantage of aluminum is that it will last a long time. Put it out in the sun, year after year, or go through freeze-thaw cycles and it will still be usable. No other canoe material can claim this. Wrap it and as long as it does not tear, it can usually be pounded back into a usable shape. However, though aluminum canoes are still being made, they are not the choice for most serious paddlers. And shape is one of the reasons. It is not possible to get the complex shapes important in a canoe with aluminum.

10:28 a.m. on July 23, 2010 (EDT)
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It is not possible to get the complex shapes important in a canoe with aluminum.

I'm curious about this -- aluminum is very versatile, seems like it could be molded into just about anything.

Could you offer a few examples of the more complex shapes, just to satisfy my curiosity?

7:47 p.m. on July 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Hi Tom, I'm happy to comment. Aluminum as you point out is very versatile and can be molded in many shapes, or cast, or spun into many shapes. Unfortunately, the issues of the canoe present certain challenges. This is because aluminum canoes are pressed rather than molded such as the way that plastic boats are either laid up(composite) or thermoformed(ABS,Twintex, poly, etc.) What this essentially means, is that in the case of aluminum canoes, they are made in two halves, joined at the keel line with either a shoe keel(better), or a regular keel(worse), and at the bow and stern. This is the only way to get a reasonable shape in the boat. As well, I suspect that in addition to manufacturing limitations, there are also design choices that have been made. If you compare quality composite or wood and canvas canoes from different manufacturers, you will see that between manufacturers and models, canoes have very complex shapes. For instance, I have two 15 canoes from NovaCraft. One is a Bob's Special, the other a Prospector. An obvious difference is the slight v bottom on the Bob's while the Prospector is a shallow arch. Depth is another issue. But the Bob's has finer ends and is faster. The Prospector still has somewhat fine ends below the waterline, but then it flares so that in waves it doesn't bury its bow as readily. Not to say that the Bob's can't handle waves, but it isn't designed for the same capacity as the Prospector.

Perhaps I should expand my series on paddling to include a section on shapes.

12:11 a.m. on July 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes, Please

October 22, 2014
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